Decision : 42 COM 8B.6
The World Heritage Committee,
- Having examined Documents WHC/18/42.COM/8B and WHC/18/42.COM/INF.8B2,
- Inscribes Fanjingshan, China, on the World Heritage List on the basis of criterion (x);
- Takes note of the following provisional Statement of Outstanding Universal Value:
Fanjingshan world natural heritage is located in South-West China, covering a total area of 40,275 ha, fully surrounded by a proposed buffer zone of 37,239 ha. The climate is monsoonal, with mean annual temperature of 12°C, annual precipitation of 1506 mm and a mean annual relative humidity of more than 80%. The property is an important source of water for the surrounding landscapes and beyond, with some 20 rivers and streams and feeding the Wujiang and Yuanjiang river systems, both of which ultimately drain into the Yangtze River.
The property consists of two parts, namely the Jian Nan subtropical evergreen forests ecoregion (64%) and the Guizhou Plateau broadleaf and mixed forests ecoregion (36%). The highest peak, Mt Fenghuangshan, has an elevation of 2,570 m above sea level (masl). With the lowest point at 500 masl, this gives the property an altitudinal range of more than 2,000 m. The resulting vertical stratification of vegetation is special, including three major altitudinal vegetation zones: evergreen broadleaf forest (<1,300 masl), mixed evergreen and deciduous broadleaf forest (1,300-2,200 masl) and mixed deciduous broadleaf and conifer and scrub forest (>2,200 masl).
The property’s isolation and changing climatic conditions have led to a high degree of endemism, with a total of 46 locally endemic plant species, 4 endemic vertebrate species and 245 endemic invertebrate species. The most prominent endemic species are Fanjingshan Fir (Abies fanjingshanensis - EN1) and Guizhou Snub-nosed Monkey (Rhinopithecus brelichi - EN), both of which are entirely restricted to the property. Three species of Fagus (F. longipetiolata, F. lucida, and F. engleriana) are the dominant species of the largest primary beech forest in the subtropical region.
A total of 3,724 plant species have been recorded in the property, an impressive 13% of China’s total flora. The property is characterized by an exceptionally high richness in bryophytes with 791 species as well as one of the distribution center of gymnosperms in China. The diversity of invertebrates is also very high with 2,317 species. A total of 450 vertebrate species are found inside the property. Fanjingshan being the only habitat in the world for Fanjingshan Fir and Guizhou Snub-nosed Monkey, as well as 64 plant and 38 animal species that are listed as Vulnerable (VU), Endangered (EN) or Critically Endangered (CR) on the IUCN Red List are also found here, including the tree Bretschneidera sinensis (EN), Chinese Giant Salamander (Andrias davidianus - CR), Forest Musk Deer (Moschus berezovskii - EN), Reeves’s Pheasant (Syrmaticus reevesii - VU), and Asiatic Black Bear (Ursus thibetanus - VU).
Criterion (x): Fanjingshan is characterized by an exceptional richness in bryophytes, with 791 species, of which 74 are endemic to China. The property also has one of the richest concentrations of gymnosperms in the world, with 36 species. A significant number of endemic species is distributed inside the property, including 46 local endemic and 1,010 Chinese endemic plant species, as well as 4 locally endemic vertebrate species. The most notable of these is the endangered Guizhou Snub-nosed Monkey, for which Fanjingshan constitutes its only distribution area in the world. Another prominent endemic species is Fanjingshan Fir, which has a very restricted distribution within the property.
The property contains 64 plant and 38 animal species that are listed as Vulnerable (VU), Endangered (EN) or Critically Endangered (CR) on the IUCN Red List, most notably Guizhou Snub-nosed Monkey, Chinese Giant Salamander, Forest Musk Deer, Reeves’s Pheasant, Asiatic Black Bear, and Bretschneidera sinensis. Compared with other properties in the same biogeographic region already on the World Heritage List, or included in Tentative Lists, the property stands out in terms of its diversity of amphibian species.
The property is of adequate size to ensure the complete representation of the features and processes which convey the property's significance. The boundaries of the property and its buffer zone are clearly designated. The property covers all important local floristic elements, and is of sufficient size to encompass the entire known home range of Guizhou Snub-nosed Monkey. The inclusion of the Chayuan area of the Yinjiang Yangxi Provincial Nature Reserve into the property improves its ecological integrity, by extending the amount of suitable habitat for the Guizhou Snub-nosed Monkey to occupy.
Overall, the property includes all key components required to express the claimed OUV and is of adequate, if minimal size to ensure the complete representation of the features which convey its significance.
Protection and management requirements
All land in the property is owned by China, who governs and regulates the use of natural resources. The property is protected by a comprehensive range of national and provincial legislation as it consists of national, provincial nature reserves, and a small area of National Non-Commercial Forest. Furthermore, much of the buffer zone and the wider landscape enjoy various levels of legal protection, as they are part of provincial parks. In addition, the villages within the property and its buffer zone each have their own village regulations, which prescribe certain behaviours that respect the natural environment of the mountain.
There are three main management agencies responsible for the property, i.e. the Administration of Fanjingshan National Nature Reserve, the Administration of Yinjiang Yangxi Provincial Nature Reserve, and the Forest Department. In March 2018, the Ministry of Natural Resources was formally established in China. All the protected areas of China are now implemented under a unified management by the State Forestry and Grassland Administration under the Ministry. In August 2017, the Institutional Committee of the People’s Government of Guizhou Province approved the establishment of Protection and Management Bureau of Fanjingshan Natural Heritage, and the property and the buffer zone of Fanjingshan have been conducted unified management.
Current staffing levels, although relatively small, appear adequate, in part thanks to the collaboration with local police, the small portion of the property that is open to the public. A systematic monitoring system is in the process of being developed, which will involve monitoring of OUV, visitors, environmental quality, natural disasters, human activity, and villages. Monitoring indicators are still being developed and should in the future enable the adoption of an adaptive management approach.
Other relevant plans exist for the management of each of the component protected areas of the property (except for the National Non-commercial Forest), for ecotourism development of Guizhou Fanjingshan National Nature Reserve, and for the conservation of Guizhou Snub-nosed Monkey. To a certain extent, these plans also address threats outside the boundaries of the property, where the component protected areas extend beyond these boundaries.
- Requests the State Party to undertake and document significant further work taking into account the need to:
- Clarify the process and measures taken concerning the relocation of residents living within the boundaries of the property to ensure that this process is fully voluntary and in line with the policies of the Convention and relevant international norms, including principles related to free, prior and informed consent, effective consultation, fair compensation, access to social benefits and skills training, and the preservation of cultural rights,
- Clarify measures taken to manage increasing visitation in relation to the inscription on the World Heritage List, and include adequate provisions to this effect in a revised management plan for the property, and provide clear assurances that no expansion of tourism infrastructure and visitor numbers will be permitted inside the property,
- Clarify fully whether there are any plans for the future development of the western access to the property, which is currently relatively free from visitation and associated human impact, and undertake a full assessment of any such plans, prior to any decision to proceed with their implementation;
- Regulate and monitor the reported taming of wild animals, and which species are included or excluded from this permitted activity, including any applicable quotas,
- Manage potential impacts on wild Giant Chinese Salamander populations that could result from the presence of salamander farms in close proximity to the property, including measures taken to avoid and mitigate the risk of transmission of diseases, including the risks of the devastating disease chytridiomycosis;
- Also requests the State Party to clarify how the boundaries of the property relate to those of the Fanjingshan Biosphere Reserve, with the aim of ensuring that any developments permitted in the experimental zone of the Biosphere Reserve do not cause any negative impact on the property, and further requests the State Party to rationalise, where feasible, the zones of the Biosphere Reserve to correspond with the boundaries of the property and its buffer zone;
- Commends the State Party for its efforts to protect Fanjingshan through highly sophisticated visitor and ecological monitoring systems, including CCTV, camera traps, drones, and a GPS-based patrol system, and encourages the State Party to continue these efforts and to adopt an adaptive management system.